Leaving the Kids Behind
I went away for two days last weekend. Left my husband and kids behind and spent 48 hours with a few wonderful women. Most of the group were mothers, so of course, we talked about that feeling of leaving your children. It's a weird feeling. I feel it every time. And it's not a great feeling. Yet, I still find myself leaving them every now and then.
When I plan a trip away from my children, I am excited about the potential. Quiet mornings, doing grown-up activities, making my own choices, grown-up dinners, staying out late. A few days without hearing "Mommy!" Heaven. But the moment I am ready to leave, and for a little while after I have actually said goodbye and started on my way, I feel terrible. What am I going to do with quiet mornings, late dinners and no one to yell "Mommy!" for two days??? Panic sets in as I try to transition from the Mom I have become to the Me I used to be. It is almost enough to make me scrap the whole idea.
I remember how difficult it was when we had our first children, to go from being Me, to being a mother. My psyche didn't want to give Me up, and it was a struggle every day for longer than I would have liked to merge those two ideas of who I was. Someone told me when I was pregnant that when you have kids you are still you, but with kids. Not true. You become a whole new person, with the old you still in there, somewhere deep inside. So, it stands to reason that when you take a short time to reconnect with that pre-Mommy part of yourself, it would take some time to adjust to the idea.
I recognize the feeling of panic now, and I let myself feel it for a few minutes. Maybe even a tear falls, when I picture my youngest son standing at the door saying "Mommy, can I come, too." And then, I let it go. I am the Mom, and I always will be. I washed all their laundry and stocked the fridge with easy meals before I left, for goodness sakes. The reality is that it is good for the kids to get a break from Mom, and experience the capable and loving presence of Daddy or Grandma or Aunty for a change. And it is good for Mommy to get a break, too. Remember who you are when no one's eating, toileting and TV watching habits are your responsibility. Remember what it is like to choose based only on what you want to do. Remember what it is like to sleep without listening for anything.
It is good for Mommy to get away, because there is one more thing she will remember...how much she loves being Mommy. And that makes it worth the effort.